May 23, 2018

University of Southern California Renews Promise to Create Ombuds Program

After the revelation of another high profile scandal that led 200 faculty to call for the removal of the university president yesterday, USC has reiterated its promise to appoint its first Ombuds. The latest unfolding scandal involves the university's response to sexual-misconduct allegations against a longtime student health center gynecologist. In recent years, USC has also dealt with two medical school deans accused of misconduct, fundraising executive accused of sexual harassment, and arrest of an assistant basketball coach on fraud charges. In an open, 20-page letter, USC President Max Nikias said that the university was moving ahead with plans to create an Ombuds program.

The letter from Nikias said:
III. USC Office of Ombuds Office
We will establish the USC Office of Ombuds Services, which will provide a safe space for our community to address difficult workplace situations, and for our employees to seek impartial guidance on a range of work-related issues. This office will provide a strictly confidential forum in which to resolve various concerns, including miscommunication between coworkers, perceived unfair treatment, interpersonal conflicts, and academic concerns. It will also educate
members of our community about university policies and procedures, such as the formal processes for filing complaints.
Ombuds Services will have a physical presence on both USC campuses. Its personnel will be trained to spot high-risk workplace situations, and—when required by law—report select matters to OPE for further review. 
Ombuds Services will operate under the Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention (CWCI), previously established under Vice Provost Varun Soni. This office—recommended by the Task Force—promotes individual wellbeing among our community members.
An earlier update from the USC provost said that locations for the new Ombuds office were being identified, the hiring process had started, and that the program would be "up and running in the new academic year." USC has not, however, publicly announced a search for an Ombuds. (USC Nikias Letter; Provost Update.)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like USC will hire internally...which seems consistent with their preference not to have outsiders know about their problems. (Badum-tish.)
    -Angry Ombuds

    PS I'm joking. Ok; I'm half joking.